Stay Tuned/Icky Christmas Recipe Report

From Eccentric Flower


stay tuned

Icky Christmas Recipe Report
7 December 1997

This installment of our ongoing coverage of the Christmas marketing madness concerns recipes.

Those who are easily nauseated should perhaps skip this installment and come back next week. Over the last year, I have developed a foolproof method for reporting on bad recipes - I just reprint the recipe and let the readers draw their own conclusions, adding very little commentary of my own.

So you'll have to listen to less of my ranting. On the other hand, you'll have to view these foodstuffs in their full, unappetizing glory.

Normally I would not reprint recipes in full, wanting to respect copyright and all that ... but I really don't see any way to do a commentary/criticism column about recipes without actually printing them. Besides, the food manufacturers want you to see these recipes. The recipes are there to help you find all sorts of reasons to buy their products. So the more people who see them, the more products get purchased, right?

One wonders if the manufacturers realize that these recipes may be acting as their own source of negative feedback. Certainly when I see some of these items, I tend to want to stay away from the featured product ... possibly for an extended time.

Not all of the ads below meet this basic criterion. Some are truly disgusting; others are merely improbable. I'll start at what I think is least icky and more or less work my way down.

We'll start with one which actually doesn't strike me as nasty ... in fact, it might even be tasty. It's just jarring - one of those recipes where the advertised ingredient seems hastily inserted into a recipe which might have done just fine without it.

Chili Cranberry Chicken

1/2 cup Heinz Chili Sauce
1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
4 to 6 boneless chicken breast halves
(about 1-1/2 pounds)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Combine first 4 ingredients, set aside. In large skillet, slowly brown chicken on both sides in oil. Pour reserved chili sauce mixture over chicken. Simmer, uncovered, 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked and sauce is desired consistency. Turn and baste occasionally. Makes 4 to 6 servings (about 1 cup sauce).

See? I'm being nice to these folks - I'm repeating their recipes in full, with no additions, deletions, or snide asides. In the case of the above, I could very easily have omitted the instruction part - the list of ingredients basically explains itself. If you try this, let me know how a basic fruit glaze tastes when you add chili sauce to it.

Hershey's has been floating around two cookie recipes this season which are both basically sugar cookies with three intact Hershey's Kisses stuck into the top. My objections to these cookies are slim ones - they just strike me as improbable and hard to eat. Why not melt the chocolate and pour it on the cookies, or make cookie balls and imbed a Hershey's Kiss in the middle of each one, or something a little less sugar-blatant than balancing three of the things on top?

Of the two, I've chosen the peanut-butter variant because it manages to place two Hershey's products instead of one. Bonus points!

Hershey's Mini Kiss Peanut Blossoms

1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup Reese's Creamy Peanut Butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Additional granulated sugar
1-3/4 cups (1 10-oz. pkg) Hershey's Mini Kisses
(Semi-Sweet or Milk Chocolate)

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. In large bowl, beat shortening and peanut butter until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to peanut butter mixture, beating until well blended. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately place 3 Mini Kisses on top of each cookie, pressing down slightly. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 4 dozen cookies.

This next recipe is the standard punchline to jokes about recipes constructed from canned goods and convenience products. You might say it's become its own cliché. Nonetheless I have to admit that I have consumed and enjoyed this dish many times, because it's one of my sister's favorite foods. It's also served at family holiday dinners. So, though it's a fairly improbable dish, I'm not really allowed to say too many bad things about it. I am what I eat.

I have seen two nearly-identical versions of this recipe lately. One is attempting to sell green beans and therefore doesn't mention the soup or onions by brand; the other names the soup and onions, but doesn't mention a brand for the green beans. Since the onions are definitely the weird ingredient, the latter recipe is clearly the superior one.

Original Green Bean Casserole

1 can (10-3/4 oz.) Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon soy sauce (optional)
Dash of pepper
4 cups cooked cut green beans
1-1/3 cups French's French Fried Onions

In 1-1/2 qt. casserole mix soup, milk, soy, pepper, beans, and 2/3 cup onions. Bake at 350 degrees F. 25 minutes or until hot. Stir. Sprinkle remaining 2/3 cup onions over bean mixture. Bake 5 minutes or until onions are golden. Serves 6.

Note that neither ad actually shows the entire top surface of the casserole covered by fried onions, the way it would be in practice. If they did it that way, you couldn't see the green beans and/or soup. One must always show all the advertised products whenever possible.

Aside from the fact that I personally would find Brie-in-pastry kinda disgusting, this next recipe earns its place in the list on the basis of its amazing hat trick - three Nabisco products in one recipe! (Four, if you decide to give your guests a choice of cracker.)

Honey Mustard Brie Almondine

1 sheet puff pastry (8-1/2 oz.), thawed
1 (8 oz.) Brie cheese wheel
2 tablespoons Grey Poupon Honey Mustard
1/3 cup Planters Sliced Almonds, toasted
1 egg, beaten
Ritz Crackers or Triscuit Wafers

Roll puff pastry to flatten on floured surface. Brush top and sides of cheese wheel with mustard; coat with almonds. Place in center of pastry. Fold pastry around cheese, trimming as necessary; seal edges. Place seam-side down on greased baking sheet. Decorate with pastry trimming cut outs. Brush with beaten egg. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with crackers.

That recipe seems rather incomplete to me - how exactly is one supposed to "fold the pastry around the edges" of a round cheese? Are the edges supposed to meet at the top and enclose the cheese so you can "seal" them? If so, what would you trim? It doesn't help to look at the photo of the finished foodstuff - perhaps significantly, there isn't one.

Now we start getting into the more nasty stuff. This one is a dead heat with the recipe above - depending upon who you are, you may think I should have switched their positions. That's as may be. Personally, I can think of many wonderful uses for clams, but it would never have occurred to me to put them in a dip.

Clam Diggers Dip

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 can (6-1/2 oz.) Snow's or Doxsee Minced Clams,
drained, reserving 2 tablespoons liquid
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

In a small mixer bowl, beat cheese, sour cream, and reserved clam liquid until smooth and well blended. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover. Chill thoroughly. Serve with fresh vegetables, crackers, or potato chips.

The caption above that recipe is "Don't Forget the Clam Dip!" Funny, it must've slipped my mind.

I realize some people eat clam dip all the time. There are also people who eat Brie-in-pastry all the time. Thus we live in a world of variety and individualism. However, personally, I would not touch either with an eleven-foot pole. Nonetheless, I promise you clam dip or Brie fanciers that we are quickly reaching recipes which should be vile to anyone, matters of taste notwithstanding.

Three more to go.

Unfortunately I can't reproduce the image, which is what really makes this one. This pie is the most improbable blue-green color you ever saw. It is exactly the color of most mint-flavored toothpastes - or of "safety blue" checks - not blue, nor yet green.

Keep your eyes on the sugar quotient of this little gem.

Kellogg's Cocoa Krispies Mint Chocolate Pie

2 tablespoons margarine
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
2 cups Kellogg's Cocoa Krispies cereal
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1 jar (7 oz.) Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme
1-1/2 teaspoons peppermint flavoring
1/4 teaspoon liquid green food color
2 drops liquid blue food color
1 container (8 oz.) reduced fat frozen whipped topping, thawed
Vegetable cooking spray

Place margarine, corn syrup, and chocolate in 2-qt. saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Add cereal to chocolate mixture. Stir until cereal is coated. With back of spoon, shape mixture evenly in bottom and on side of 9-inch pie pan coated with cooking spray. (If mixture is too soft, refrigerate about 5 minutes.) Chill crust. Combine gelatin and water in small saucepan. Let stand 1 minute. Place over low heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin has dissolved. Remove from heat. In large mixing bowl, combine marshmallow creme, flavoring, colors, and warm gelatin, mixing until smooth. Thoroughly fold in thawed whipped topping. Spoon filling into chilled crust. Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm. Serve garnished with additional whipped topping and chocolate curls, if desired.

Yield: 8 slices.

Yup. And then they have the audacity to give "nutrition facts" below the recipe. You have to admire such chutzpah. (You don't want the stats.) By the by, the Jet-Puffed product is a Kraft brand, not Kellogg's. Christmas is the time of brotherly love and cross-promotion (note also Campbell's and French's). But since Kraft also has Cool Whip, one wonders why they didn't go for the trifecta. Probably because then the Kraft products would have them outnumbered.

Moving right along ....

I have nothing against braunschweiger, aside from the cholesterol level. But this is an abomination.

Creamy Jones Braunschweiger Dip

1 package (8 oz.) Jones Liver Sausage, cut into chunks
1 cup sour cream
6 green onions (white portion only), chopped
1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley
2 to 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
3 to 5 drops hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until smooth, or place all ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer or a spoon. Cover and chill for several hours or overnight. Serve with crackers or cut fresh vegetables. Makes 2 cups.

That's another one where the instructions seem a little redundant. "Combine all ingredients and whomp the bejeezus out of them" would have done the job. Around here we use the term "emulsify" anytime something needs to be ground into subatomic puree ("Emulsify that for me, would you?")

Those of you who have actually bothered to read the recipes in this downward spiral of dyspepsia are undoubtedly wondering what horror I've saved for last. And well you should wonder. Don't say I didn't warn you.

White Castle Turkey Dressing

10 White Castle hamburgers *
[* footnote says: "If purchased in a White Castle restaurant, remove pickle."]
1-1/2 cups celery, diced
1-1/4 teaspoons ground thyme
1-1/2 teaspoons ground sage
3/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/4 cup chicken broth

In a large mixing bowl, tear the White Castle hamburgers into pieces and add diced celery and seasonings. Toss and add chicken broth. Toss well. Stuff cavity of turkey just before roasting. Makes about 9 cups (enough for a 10 to 12 pound turkey).

And bon appetit to you too.


Ever notice how the same names keep coming up? Ever realize how few companies control three-fourths of your grocery store?

[February 2007:] The nice people at Jones Sausage claimed, at the time, that they could be found at I did not investigate back then, and now that URL is defunct. I am not clear if they always marketed as "Jones Dairy Farm," whether they switched to that name later, or whether they reverted to it. At any rate, that is what they are, and I have inserted the correct URL into the article above - assuming you are not looking for George Jones Country Sausage - ew. George, I stopped loving you today.

My regular readers wrote about this column to say, "Gee, those recipes weren't so disgusting ...." Tough crowd. OK, but how about this one?

Kellogg's Corn Flakes Holiday Wreaths

1/3 cup margarine
1 package (10 oz.) regular marshmallows
1 teaspoon green food coloring
6 cups Kellogg's Corn Flakes cereal
Red cinnamon candies

I won't bother giving the recipe. Melt the marshmallow with the butter like you're going to make Rice Krispies bars, add the food color and the cereal, and then form the now-dyed-green cornflakes into little wreath/doughnut shapes with your fingers. Dot them with the cinnamon candies and you'll end up with a truly disgusting confection.

Be careful what you ask for.

and now back to our program

The material on these pages is copyright © 1997-2007. All rights reserved.

It is assumed that every brand name, slogan, corporate name, symbol, design element, et cetera mentioned in these articles is a protected/trademarked entity, the sole property of its owner(s), and acknowledgement of this status is implied. When advertising materials are excerpted here it is for express purposes of commentary and criticism, and thereby protected under the Fair Use provisions of U.S. copyright law.

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